Papers of John Harland

  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 133 UCC/2/13
  • Former Reference
      GB 133 C33
  • Dates of Creation
  • Physical Description
      32 items

Scope and Content

Bundle of letters, mostly to John Harland.

Administrative / Biographical History

John Harland was born in Hull on 27 May 1807 to John Harland and his wife Mary (née Breasley). He was apprenticed as a letterpress printer to the newspaper The Hull Packet in 1821, but soon migrated to journalism and in 1825-6 developed his own system of shorthand. With his reputation spreading, the founder of The Manchester Guardian recruited him for his paper in November 1830. Renowned for his tireless work and the production of lengthy and accurate reports, he rose to prominence as a reporter. The quality of his journalism with its national coverage helped to promote both the paper and his standing, and with the expansion of the newspaper, he was given his own team of reporters. He retired in 1860.

Harland was also an enthusiastic historian and antiquarian, noted for his skill in Medieval Latin. He became a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries and joined the council of the Chetham Society. In the latter capacity, he edited and compiled numerous works, notably volumes relating to the history of Manchester. Among his published works are Ballads and Songs of Manchester (1865) and (with T.T. Wilkinson) Lancashire Folklore (1867). He belonged to a variety of Manchester literary and scientific institutions and was a founder member of the Rosicrucian Brotherhood, a gathering of Manchester antiquarians who published regular articles based on their researches in The Manchester Guardian. Raised in the Church of England, he became a Unitarian in 1828. He married twice, first to Mary Whitfield (d. 1840) with whom he had four children, and later to Eliza Pilkinton who had five children with him. He died on 27 May 1868 at Cheetham Hill, Manchester.


Richard Garnett, 'Harland John (1806-1868)', rev. Zoë Lawson, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004).

'Death of Mr. John Harland F.S.A.', The Manchester Guardian, 25 April 1868.